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|INAF 356 - Gender Politics in African Cul|
In a powerful commentary of the media depictions of the troubles of Africa, the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai, though acknowledges their severity, laments “what we see of them…more often than not, are tableaux vivants connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation.” Maathai joins countless African women and men writers who critiqued the representational discourse of gender in Africa, in which women are systematically portrayed as passive victims of patriarchal societal structures and ideologies. More often than not, Eurocentric discourses attribute the perceived confinement of women to antiquated cultural practices imposed in an imagined ‘private sphere,’ cults of domesticity and servility. The response to these representations were framed within the notions of autonomy and agency, which too are rooted in neoliberal notions of individuality. The objective of this course is to examine what is at stake in each debate as to whether African women are indeed victims of a discursive patriarchal order of things or to the contrary free agents and resisters. Drawing from a variety of ethnographic and political sources, we examine wide-ranging themes to interrogate received wisdoms embedded in each of the positions described above. Therefore, the course engages gender politics in African cultures and societies from a variety of fields of inquiry ranging from local, regional, national and transnational frames of reference. We will examine the promises of gender struggles for equity and justice with a full awareness of the discourses and practices of asymmetrical power within which gender in African cultures and societies is contemplated within scholarly politics and human rights activists circles. Materials pertaining to our focus on gender in the continent will shed light on the attainment of a measure of fairness which must be situated and understood within the broader framework of local and supra-local politics as gleaned from the role of the African Union’s charters and protocols.
3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Seminar
International Affairs Department